Become A Master Of Persuasion

When I first started selling it was a complete disaster.  I thought if I just got enough people to like me they would buy my products and services.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.

I actually learned how to sell from a master salesperson named Mark.  Mark was simply able to move people beyond where they originally thought they could go.

Mark and I were making blitz calls (that’s how we did it back in the day).  The funny thing today is that you back then you could actually get in to see people and have a conversation with them today.  Even with all this technology we seem to have less time than we did 30 years ago.  Go figure that one out!

Anyway, Mark and I called on this business and the Owner came out and immediately said he did not have time to talk.  He stated that he appreciated us coming by, but we caught him at the wrong time.

Mark asked him a question about what was keeping him so busy and the man went on to talk for about four or five minutes about what he had to do.  Mark asked him another question about that was related to what he wanted to accomplish.  Our conversation with this guy who originally had no time to talk lasted for thirty minutes.

He invited us back and ultimately became a customer.  What would have happened if Mark had simply said: “Ok, we’ll come back later”?

I asked Mark how did he take a guy who wanted no part of use and move him to wanting to have a conversation with us.  He told me about persuasion and how people say things initially because they are programmed to say them.  He went on to say that what people say is often not what they mean.

The ability to persuade people is a key skill for sales people.  If you want to win the sales game you have to be able to create value, differentiate yourself from the competition, and gain agreement.  But what facilitates you being successful in the sales process is your ability to persuade.

One of the best courses on persuasion was put together by a guy named Kevin Hogan.  He is a master a persuasion and teaching persuasion.  If you want to check out his stuff go to kevinhogan.winningthesalesgame.com.

To start practicing and developing your skill of persuasion, begin to notice what words and actions that cause people to connect with you.  If you observe yourself you will see when conversations and attitudes shift in a positive way towards your message.

When you take notes of those instances, use them over and over again until you have mastered them.

Mastering persuasion in sales in not like a con game.  You are helping your prospects get what they need to meet their objectives.  And, because you helped them you benefit too.

Happy Selling

Have You Been Losing Sales to Hidden Competitors?

What happened?  You just knew you had a sale and then your prospect did something completely different than what you thought they were going to do!

What happened was you lost out to the competition.  The word competition can conjure up many things in your mind.  You may think about the many competitors that offer similar products or services that you do.  You may think about the advantages or disadvantages your product or service has in relation to your competitors.  Most of the time though, when you think about competition you think about competition as being another company, product, or service.

What you may not have taken into consideration is there are competitive forces that you need to contend with in sales then just “traditional” competition.  I often refer to these non-traditional competitive forces as hidden competitors.

There are two distinct hidden competitors that we are going to discuss.  The first is a mindset and the second is a buying influencer.

The “We’ve always done it this way competitor”

If the solution you are bringing to your prospects represents a fundamental change in the way they have previously done things this is a major competitor.

Consider if your prospect has been using your competitor’s brand for some time, the decision to move from the competitor’s brand to your brand may not be based solely on the value you bring versus the competitor.

In fact, your prospect may be sold on the fact that your product is actually better than what they are currently using.

However, part of the decision making process will revolve around the ease of transition from one company to the other company.

When you think of what is involved in changing companies there is a lot to change.   There are new accounts to set up from an admin basis.  There are new procedures and processes that may be different for your company versus brand X.  There are the new relationships that have to be formed.

As you can see with the amount of change that has to be made, part of the value you bring is eroded by the “cost” of changing.

What you have to do as the sales person is show how the transition will be minimal and easy.

The “outside looking in competitor”

In most business to business sales situations that involve a significant investment for products or services there will be many buying influencers in the decision making process.

Buying influencers are those people that have input into the decision making process.

Most of the buying influencers will be inside the company.  However, you may encounter a buying influencer that is outside the company.

Buying influencers that are outside the company could include attorneys, CPAs, consultants, and partners not actually working in the business.

The outsiders looking in play a role in the decision even though the product or service may not directly impact them.

Most of the times these outside buying influencers can’t give the decision to buy, but they can say don’t buy.

It is imperative that you know all of the buying influencers that will be playing a role in the decision making process.  You can’t be afraid to ask who will be involved in making the decision and confirm that you know and are aware of everyone that could remotely influence the decision.

With the outsiders looking in competitor you have to make sure you address their needs and concerns.  If necessary you may need to meet with them to understand what they want to accomplish and how your product or service would satisfy their needs.

In conclusion, competition can have many faces.  Don’t be short sighted and think that your only competition are the companies you compete against.  Competition includes all of the alternatives and obstacles that stand in the way of you making the sale.

Happy Selling

How To Execute The Discovery Phase of The Sales Process Effectively Part II

In Part I of How To Execute The Discovery Phase Of The Sales Process, I talked about the importance of asking questions, the type of questions to use, and when to use them.  Now I’m going to go a little deeper into some specific questions you need to ask in the discovery phase.

The whole point of using a sales process is to get the business.  All of the pieces of the sales process have a purpose and fit together.  If you leave out or skip a part of the sales process you dramatically decrease your chances of closing the deal.

For example, a lot of sales people want to know the best way to close a sale.  The truth is: closing a sale should be a natural outcome of the sales process.  However, everything else has to be done correctly before the closing phase of the sales process.

The discovery phase allows you to get the information you need to address the needs and concerns of your prospect.  Then you can prepare a customized solution for your prospect that will differentiate you from the competition.  This increases your probability of getting the business.

In the discovery phase you are gathering as much information as you can about your prospect.  The more you know the better position you are in.  You don’t want to just get random information; you want to know their pain and challenges.  You want to know things that can give you insight into how they will choose which way to go.

There are four main questions you want to ask as part of your discovery process.  These are not the only questions you need to ask, but they are necessary questions for each sales campaign.

The Four Questions are:

1. What criteria will you use to make your decision?

The answer to this question allows you to address the issues that are important to them when you make your proposal.  You will want to customize your proposal to include your prospects decision making criteria.

2. What is your time frame for having a solution in place?

Understanding the time frame before presenting your proposal will almost always eliminate the stall objection.  Also, if the time frame for implementation is too far out you may want to wait before proceeding with the sales process.

3. Who will be involved in the decision making process?

You have to know all of the people that will be involved in the process. You want to make sure you address each of the needs of everyone that will play a role in the decision.

4. What is your budget?

Understanding your prospect’s budget allows you to determine the proper solution.  In some cases it tells you even if you have a valid prospect.  You have to build rapport, creditability, and trust to get the answer to this question.

As I mentioned, the four questions are just a part of the many questions you will ask during the discovery phase.  Remember that the discovery phase is where you should be investing the majority of your time in the sales process.  If you do great job of discovery, your prospect will know that you understand what they need.   You will have more confidence in your solution because you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is the best solution.

Happy Selling